The Overgrown Parking Lot

My family and I were able to take a very fun and affordable trip to Ft. Lauderdale, FL recently. One of the highlights so far was taking a boat ride down a canal filled with wealthy homes and jaw-dropping yachts. Our tour guide described each home and its owner.

Business owners, Hollywood actors/actresses, etc. were some of those mentioned. One man had taken several large houses and joined them all together as one. We also were told of another home that had windowpanes that were $10,000 each!

So many beautiful homes along this canal in Ft. Lauderdale
This man bought several houses and combined them all together. Humongous.

It was truly mind-boggling to see how elaborate these homes were built. As we continued along the canal however, we came across a lot that did not fit the perfectly manicured neighborhood. The grass had grown tall and the building in the distance looked abandoned. Our tour guide flippantly mentioned that the grass we were looking at usually looked much better.

The tour guide explained that this church parking lot is normally taken care of, but that now it’s overgrown because the church has closed its doors due to CDC guidelines. It was heartbreaking to see the difference between this and its neighboring multi-million dollar homes with manicured lawns. Busy streets, beaches and shops but an empty church building. 😢

He explained that because of the CDC regulations, the church that owned this property was no longer meeting. It had closed its doors. The grass that had formerly been the church’s parking lot, was now overgrown. I immediately felt so sad. I reflected on the packed airport and beaches and the busy streets, restaurants and shops that we had experienced since our arrival. So many people, doing so many things, but church was not one of them.

I know that some of you reading this have experienced this travesty personally. As a pastor’s wife during a “pandemic”, I can absolutely understand the pressure the pastor feels of trying to make the best choices for his church members.

Does “love your neighbor” mean keeping your doors closed so they won’t catch the virus? Or does “love your neighbor” mean keeping the doors open so they can meet together with other believers and corporately worship Christ?

The pressure is real.

Pray for your pastor, staff and families! I am in no way minimizing the sadness some have felt after losing loved ones to this virus. My heart breaks for these families. No one should be cavalier about this kind of pain and loss.

However, I am shocked at how effective Satan has been just in these past several months. He is using the exact same tactics he used in the Garden.

What did he do to get Eve to compromise?

He isolated her.

He got her away from Adam because he knows there is “power in numbers”. He knew she would have zero accountability and that he would have a better chance at deceiving her and controlling her mind if he could get her alone. (We know Adam was apparently close enough for her to share the fruit with, but the dialogue in Scriptures seems to imply the serpent had gotten her alone for a conversation). Alone. Just how Satan prefers us.

This sounds strangely similar to what has happened recently. We have become more isolated, and more alone. We have settled in behind our computers and in front of our televisions and seem so satisfied with this “new normal” (let me just mention how much I loathe this phrase).

If I were Satan, this would be part of my plan for sure. Get everyone alone, take away the assembling of believers, sit them in front of social media and make them think that it is a substitute for “real life” and “real church”.

Make them feel guilty for desiring their former freedoms or for having a different opinion than the masses. Silence them. Put a mask over the same mouths that used to encourage others with a smile and shamelessly share the Gospel with others. Make people afraid to even take a tract from someone’s hand. Keep them hiding in their homes full of fear where they are less effective, less interactive and less motivated.

There are so many heartbreaking stories of fellow ministry laborers not knowing how much longer they can keep their doors open. Church attendance has been cut down to the bare bones for so many churches, tithes have been majorly affected, ministries and outreaches have been put on hold for no one knows how long.

As we navigate through the many unknowns, we cannot let Satan have a victory! We cannot let our own churches be like the overgrown parking lot I passed this week! We have to remember that this life is not just about ourselves and the pleasures this world holds. It’s not about Netflix and take-out food and enjoying the comforts of our own “safe space”.

This life that we have been gifted is to be lived in obedience to Christ. This life that is ticking by is about sharing the saving, Good News of Jesus Christ with a lost and dying world. We can’t get distracted. We can’t get complacent. We can’t lose our zeal. Don’t let a mask stifle your smile. Don’t let a mask keep you from sharing Christ’s message with others. Let’s make Satan’s plan backfire by faithfully serving Christ with the days we have left!

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:25

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